Fuelled by a greater demand for jobs and the need to cut costs, nearly half of all HR professionals (43 per cent) are interviewing more candidates by phone than ever before – however, many candidates fall at this first hurdle.

New research conducted amongst 700 recruitment and HR professionals by the Post Office Home Phone, in conjunction with HR website Changeboard, has revealed worrying trends when it comes to how applicants approach telephone interviews, with many reporting basic mistakes and blunders.

How not to get the job

The research found that common mistakes will lead to immediate rejection by some recruiters. Clearly doing something else while on the phone will cause candidates to be rejected by 40 per cent of recruiters, not preparing properly by 33 per cent and having a poor telephone manner by 19 per cent. While background noise interference (26 per cent) and the phone cutting out when being interviewed (11 per cent) are career limiting mistakes frowned upon by the industry.

Results from the survey revealed shocking levels of complacency among candidates during telephone interviews. Some incidency include candidates being clearly drunk on the telephone at the time of the interview, Using the toilet ,Arguing with a family member and even being pulled over by the police for being on the phone while driving

90 per cent of HR professionals believe that candidates need to prepare as thoroughly for a telephone interview as they would need to for a face-to-face interview emphasises the need for candidates to take these interviews more seriously.

As part of their interview preparation, nearly half (46 per cent) of recruiters encouraged candidates to call from a landline to minimise the chance of interference or lost connection, while 82 per cent emphasised the importance of finding a quiet place from which to take the call.

The fact that 10 per cent of recruiters would dismiss a candidate if the telephone cuts out reinforces the need to put as much thought into the environment from which to make the call, as this should be an integral part of interview preparation.

The Apprentice winner and recruitment expert Lee McQueen said: “It’s difficult to give anything your full attention if you’re doing something else at the same time yet it’s apparent that candidates aren’t taking their interviews seriously enough. They wouldn’t turn up to an interview dressed in a bobble hat and trainers and the same kind of consideration needs to be given when speaking to potential employers over the phone.

“It’s all about selling yourself and making an impression in the first two minutes. One key tip is to take the phone call in a quiet room on a landline so you can be confident that it won’t cut out; the lack of distractions and quality line will ensure a more professional interview too.”

Hugh Stacey, Head of Post Office HomePhone added: “Telephone interviews are often the first real opportunity that candidates get to shine in front of a prospective employer. From our research it’s clear that if you fail to impress at this stage, then it is likely that your application is over before it’s even started. A quiet room and a landline provide the right environment to help stay focused, professional and prevent distractions during the interview.

“Post Office HomePhone offers a huge array of added extras, like free weekend calls to 40 international destinations and to UK mobiles, as well as free evening and weekend calls to UK landlines.”

Rob Willock, Chief Operating Officer of Changeboard said: “Faced with a huge pile of CVs from equally qualified candidates, recruiters need a way of weeding out the weaker applicants.”

“The research shows that 90 per cent of recruiters use telephone interviews for the initial screening process, so first impressions count even more than normal. The employer might not be able to see you but they’ll be hanging on every word you say. Don’t give them a reason to reject you by performing poorly on the telephone.”